Archive for January, 2011

Bruce Sterling – Vernacular Video – Vimeo Festival

Sunday, January 23rd, 2011

Found this post by Cory Doctorow over on BoingBoing – it’s Bruce Sterling at the Vimeo Festival giving the closing keynote on vernacular video. He references the Dick Van Dyke Show, amongst other things – like: the future will be filled with old people, afraid of the sky, living in dirty cities – great stuff.

His phrase “obsolete before plateau” is just as brilliant as “pants like a kangaroo” and “life span of hamsters”. Sterling has the ability to inspire and this is an inspiring talk – just not in the way you’d expect from Sterling. Despite his habitual snarkiness, here he’s almost a cranky luddite as he proclaims the “future is not going to be as smart as you want it to be”. And he’s right. It’s no reason to give up, curl in a ball and die. It’s just a very realistic look at where we’re going.

Short strokes? We’re inexorably crawling deeper and deeper up our own ass.

Enjoy the ride.


P.S. I’ll be the guy on the left-turn corner of your colon, just past the burrito obstruction, with his hat out for spare change as he gives a little song and dance. Watch out for the corn.

Dan Barber – In Love With A Fish – TED Talk

Thursday, January 20th, 2011

Dan Barber professes his love for a fish in this amazing TED Talk and in the process of his discourse he surpasses his previous gem about Foie Gras and shows that he is not only a shining example of what it means to be a foodie and a great chef but also that he is one of the brightest, focused and committed lights to shine upon the problems we face in our attempts to feed ourselves, each other and the world – without destroying our world in the process.

I especially loved the bit about the flamingos because it reminded me of my trips to Bonaire where they have salt farms that harbour vast flocks of these intensely coloured creatures who – as they do in Barber’s description – travel great distances from their nesting sites (in this case 75 miles across the water to Venezuela and back) to enjoy the better food.

Although I am still very busy with my continuing post production efforts on the Ruffus Christmas Carol I do manage to pry myself out of the edit suite from time to time to procrastinate by engaging with my kitchen passions. I love to cook. I love to eat. And I, like many others in this privileged corner of the globe, am making an effort to adopt strategies for procuring food more locally and/or ethically – and at the same time continue to be disheartened by the unrelenting ravages inflicted upon our planet, our health and our children’s lives by the malignantly obstinate mechanical mindset of the business of food.

Discovering this talk was like finding a new recipe – a delicious and enriching one – one which I intend to follow, in my kitchen and in the world around me. You should too.

Bon appetite.

See What Copyright Law Robbed You Of In 2011

Monday, January 3rd, 2011

I cribbed this from Gizmodo but they got it from Duke University so that’s okay but what’s most important is the list of works which should have entered the public domain this year – but won’t – because the copyright laws were changed back in 1976 to completely fuck us all up the ass.

Images of Lord of the Flies, The Doors of Perception, Rear Window, 20000 Leagues Under the Sea, Seven Samurai, Waiting for Godot, Sports Illustrated, Horton Hears a Who!

Wikipedia image Wikipedia image Wikipedia image Wikipedia image Wikipedia image Wikipedia image Wikipedia image Wikipedia image

It’s important to remember:

Under the law that existed until 1978 . . . Up to 85% of all copyrighted works from 1982 would be entering the public domain on January 1, 2011.

Here’s just a taste:

Current US law extends copyright protections for 70 years from the date of the author’s death. (Corporate “works-for-hire” are copyrighted for 95 years.) But prior to the 1976 Copyright Act (which became effective in 1978), the maximum copyright term was 56 years (an initial term of 28 years, renewable for another 28 years). Under those laws, works published in 1954 would be passing into the public domain on January 1, 2011.

What might you be able to read or print online, quote as much as you want, or translate, republish or make a play or a movie from? How about William Golding’s Lord of the Flies? Golding first published Lord of the Flies in 1954. If we were still under the copyright laws that were in effect until 1978, Lord of the Flies would be entering the public domain on January 1, 2011 (even assuming that Golding or his publisher had renewed the copyright). Under current copyright law, we’ll have to wait until 2050. This is because the copyright term for works published between 1950 and 1963 was extended to 95 years from the date of publication, so long as the works were published with a copyright notice and the term renewed (which is generally the case with famous works such as this). All of these works from 1954 will enter the public domain in 2050.

What other works would be entering the public domain if we had the pre-1978 copyright laws? You might recognize some of the titles below.

    • The first two volumes of J.R.R. Tolkien’s Lord of Rings trilogy: The Fellowship of the Ring and The Two Towers
    • Samuel Beckett’s Waiting for Godot (his own translation/adaptation of the original version in French, En attendant Godot, published in 1952)
    • Kingsley Amis’ Lucky Jim
    • Aldous Huxley’s The Doors of Perception
    • Dr. Seuss’ Horton Hears a Who!
    • Pauline Réage’s Histoire d’O
    • Fredric Wertham’s Seduction of the Innocent, subtitled “The influence of comic books on today’s youth”
    • Tennessee Williams’ Cat on a Hot Tin Roof
    • Mac Hyman’s No Time for Sergeants
    • Alan Le May’s The Searchers
    • C.S. Lewis’ The Horse and His Boy, the fifth volume of The Chronicles of Narnia
    • Alice B. Toklas’ The Alice B. Toklas Cookbook

Under the pre-1978 copyright law, you could now teach history and politics using most of Toynbee’s A Study of History (vols. 7–10 were first published in 1954) or Henry Kissinger’s A World Restored, or stage a modern adaptation of Erich Maria Remarque’s A Time to Love and A Time to Die for community theater.

The 1950s were also the peak of popular science fiction writing. 1954 saw the publication of Richard Matheson’s I Am Legend (filmed three times in the last half century by Hollywood), Philip Wylie’s Tomorrow!, Arthur C. Clarke’s The Deep Range, Robert Heinlein’s The Star Beast, and the Hugo Award-winning They’d Rather Be Right by Frank Riley and Mark Clifton. Instead of seeing these enter the public domain in 2011, we will have to wait until 2050 – a date that, itself, seems the stuff of science fiction.

Pieces of history, too, remain locked up. The first issue of Sports Illustrated – which featured on its cover the then Milwaukee Braves’ Eddie Matthews at bat with the then New York Giants catcher Wes Westrum – would be entering the public domain on January 1, 2011. (Time Inc., owner of Sports Illustrated, retains the copyright through 2050.)

Think of the movies from 1954 that would have become available this year. You could have showed clips from them. You could have showed all of them. You could have spliced and remixed and made documentaries about them. (You could have been a contender!) Instead, here are a few of the movies that we won’t see in the public domain for another 39 years:

    • On the Waterfront, directed by Elia Kazan; starring Marlon Brando, Eva Marie Saint, Rod Steiger, Karl Malden, and Lee J. Cobb
    • Director Alfred Hitchcock’s Rear Window, starring James Stewart, Grace Kelly, Raymond Burr, and Thelma Ritter
    • The original Japanese-language release of Seven Samurai, directed by Akira Kurasawa; starring Takashi Shimura and Toshir? Mifune
    • Dial M for Murder, directed by Hitchcock; starring Ray Milland, Grace Kelly, and Robert Cummings
    • Walt Disney’s 20000 Leagues Under the Sea, starring Kirk Douglas and James Mason
    • The cult horror classic, Creature from the Black Lagoon
    • The enduring holiday chestnut, White Christmas, starring Bing Crosby, Danny Kaye, Rosemary Clooney, and Vera Allen, featuring songs by Irving Berlin
    • The Barefoot Contessa, starring Humphrey Bogart, Ava Gardner, and Edmond O’Brien
    • Brigadoon, with Gene Kelly, Van Johnson, and Cyd Charisse; from the Alan Jay Lerner and Frederick Loewe musical

If you wanted to find guitar tabs or sheet music or record your own version of some of the great music of the early 1950s, January 1, 2011, would have been a happy day for you under the old copyright laws. I Got a Woman (Ray Charles and Renald Richard), Mambo Italiano (Bob Merrill), Mister Sandman (Pat Ballard), Misty (Erroll Garner), Only You (and You Alone) (Buck Ram), Shake, Rattle and Roll (Jesse Stone, under his songwriting name, Charles E. Calhoun) – they would have all become available.

Go – read the whole post. It goes on to list many, many, many more works which rightly should have become public property – representing the culture we’ve grown up in, been immersed in and must respond to with works of our own.

But that didn’t happen.

Instead, we exist in a continually growing cultural vacuum which benefits undead corporations and renders our own view of the world around us into a relentless advertisement for more of the same.

Copyright was created to protect the public domain – to ensure works would eventually fall into the commons – so we would all benefit. The law, and our own government representatives, have been corrupted – the laws inverted and twisted – and this effort continues – and will continue – until we either give up or stand up.

You and yours are poorer now.

Happy New Year.

Go make something new.